Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Painting v. Writing

BOND: Now you, at one time, are torn between being a painter and being a writer, as I understand?

BARAKA: Right. That's right.

BOND: So, I mean, what tipped the balance?


BOND: And what attracts you to painting?

BARAKA: Well, because, like I said, my mother -- I drew all the time, you know. I still paint, you know. I've actually had shows. I had a show in L.A., I had a show in San Francisco. I was in the Two-Man Show at Jersey City at the University. I was in a couple as a teenager. I'd had shows. And there's another show planned for -- soon. But anyway, I've drawn all my life. And I'll tell you, my mom had sent me to, you know, art --

BOND: Yeah. What kind of painter are you?

BARAKA: I use -- what can I say? I use markers, chalk -- colored chalk -- oil crayons --

BOND: Realistic -- ?

BARAKA: -- pencil -- pen

BOND: Abstract?

BARAKA: Expressionist.

BOND: Expressionist.

BARAKA: Yeah. I can draw, actually, but I don't like to all the time draw, like straight out, you know. So I've been influenced most by the, expressionist style, whether it's black expressionist style of people like Jake [Jacob] Lawrence and Vincent Smith, or the German expressionist style of people like [Max] Beckman, and [Karl] Schmidt-Rottluff. So it's -- I like to use color, you know, and to use color to make statements about the world that are not necessarily direct. But I do that. I have -- you know, my wife is getting ready to put me out into the garage where we're getting it redone. So now I'm -- she wants more space in the house, so I guess I will have a little studio out in my garage where I can write and paint without the incessant interruption that we have now. Our house is -- you know, we've been in Newark so long, you know -- she was raised in Newark. She was born in North Carolina. I, of course, was born and raised in Newark. People know us since we were tots, you know. And like as not, you might see one of them any day.